Boethius: Mediator between Antiquity & the Middle Ages

Boethius: Mediator between Antiquity & the Middle Ages

JPI 1005
3 Credits

Boethius is considered to be the most important mediator between classical antiquity and the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages. According to Kurt Flasch, his Consolation of Philosophy is the most important work for medieval thought in general. Among other things, Boethius is famous for the definition of the person as an individual substance of a rational nature that he provides in his Contra Eutychen et Nestorium. Furthermore, Boethius is known for bringing up and formulating the issue of the ontological status of universals, which then becomes a hotly debated topic in medieval times, represented in the opposite intellectual camps that favor nominalism or realism respectively. Having gained a sense of Boethius’ thought in the first part of the course, we will compare him with important figures of scholasticism like Aquinas and Richard of St. Victor. This comparison will give the students a better sense of the historical process of the reception of the ancients: what was inherited from the tradition and what was the genuinely creative contribution of the generation of the scholastics. We will selectively study this reception of Boethius especially in the fields of metaphysics, Christology, and trinitarian theology by looking more closely at Aquinas’ commentary on Boethius’ On the Trinity and the sections on Christology in the Summa Theologiae.

Selected Texts


Jonathan Bieler portrait

Jonathan Bieler

Assistant Professor of Patrology and Systematic Theology

Dr. Bieler received his doctoral degree in theology at the University of Zürich (2017), with a dissertation in Patristics on the coherence of Maximus the Confessor’s thought, which is published by Brill (2019). He taught in the theological faculty at the University of Zürich and assisted the chair of Patristics with teaching and research. In his work, he strives to combine the usage of historical-critical methods with faithfulness to the Church’s living tradition.

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